With all of the news and notes from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez following qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday, Crash.net F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith brings you his paddock notebook.

- Daniel Ricciardo took only the third pole position of his Formula 1 career on Saturday in Mexico after a thrilling qualifying session, edging out Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen by just 0.026 seconds in Q3.

- It marked Ricciardo’s first pole at a track other than Monaco, his previous two coming in the principality in 2016 and 2018, and was the first time he had outqualfiied Verstappen since Monaco this year.

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- Verstappen narrowly missed out on becoming F1’s youngest ever pole-sitter, and now has just 45 days left to break Sebastian Vettel’s record from the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. Verstappen will have two more chances in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

- The result saw Red Bull score its first front row lock-out since the 2013 United States Grand Prix. It also marked its 60th pole in F1, just three of which have come since the start of the V6 hybrid era.

- Lewis Hamilton was left happy with P3 on the grid ahead of his likely coronation as a five-time world champion on Sunday in Mexico. Hamilton said there was a “night and day difference” in his car after overnight changes from Mercedes, who managed to get his engine working in a better window, aided by cooler conditions compared to practice.

- Hamilton will be crowned world champion with a top-seven finish on Sunday in Mexico, with chief title rival Sebastian Vettel requiring victory to keep the championship battle alive to Brazil. Vettel will start alongside Hamilton the second row of the grid in P4 on Sunday.

- Mercedes can also wrap up its fifth straight constructors’ championship on Sunday if it outscores Ferrari by 20 points. Valtteri Bottas will start fifth in the second Mercedes, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen confirmed to be starting sixth.

- Bottas was sidelined by a hydraulic issue in FP3 that forced Mercedes into an engine change, with the team re-fitting his Austin power unit. As it did not take a new one for its 2018 pool, there was no grid penalty. Toto Wolff also said the team was confident the issue would not threaten Lewis Hamilton’s power unit, with the problem not having emerged for “many years”.

- Sauber scored its second double Q3 result of the season as both Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson reached the top 10. The team was aided by Force India’s decision not to run on Hypersofts in Q2, with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez favouring a start on Ultrasoft tyres in 11th and 13th.

- Fernando Alonso led McLaren’s charge once again in qualifying, finishing 12th to continue his perfect record against teammate Stoffel Vandoorne on Saturdays this year. Vandoorne recorded his best qualifying since the Hungarian Grand Prix in July, finishing 17th in Q1.

- Brendon Hartley was left lamenting errors on his final Q2 lap that left him 14th overall as he went slower than he did on his Q1 effort. Hartley confirmed he is still using the updated aero package on his car that was introduced on Friday.

- In the sister Toro Rosso, Pierre Gasly only set a time in Q1 due to his grid penalty after power unit and gearbox changes. He will start last on Sunday.

- Haas ailed to its second straight double Q1 exit in Mexico as Romain Grosjean finished 16th, with teammate Kevin Magnussen 18th. It saw Grosjean also end a streak of 11 straight Q3 appearances. Grosjean will drop to 18th on the grid as a result of a grid penalty carrying over from Austin.

- Tyres are set to be a point of focus on Sunday, with many predicting the Hypersofts will only last a handful of laps before “melting”, in the words of Toto Wolff. Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr., Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson are the only drivers required to start on Hypersofts tomorrow, with all of the top six starting on Ultrasofts. The rest of the field has a free choice of starting tyre.

- Renault broke curfew for the first time this season, using one of its two jokers for the year. The team confirmed there was “no big issue” and that it “just wanted to check the suspension setup at the back of Nico’s car.”

- The FIA confirmed in the lead-up to FP3 that it would be clamping down on track limits at the exit of Turn 11, using the same policy as in Austin whereby if a driver goes completely past the red and white kerbing, they will have their time deleted in qualifying. A three-strike policy will be used in the race before a black-and-white flag is shown.

- Lance Stroll was forced to see the stewards twice on Saturday for failing to adhere to the race notes at Turn 8, not staying to one side of the marker board after running wide. In both instances, there was no action taken, with the stewards deeming him not to have been unsafe towards any other driver.

- Pirelli issued an update to the rear tyre pressures required for the remainder of the weekend, lifting the minimum slick rear pressure from 20 psi to 21 psi. Intermediates went up from 19 to 20 psi, with the Wets going from 18 to 19 psi.

- The paddock festivities continued on Saturday, with a particular highlight being the appearance of a mariachi band who played the F1 theme music.



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